Tag Archives: A.B. (Banjo) Paterson

Old Man Platypus by Banjo Paterson

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Far from the trouble and toil of town,
Where the reed beds sweep and shiver,
Look at a fragment of velvet brown –
Old Man Platypus drifting down,
Drifting along the river.

And he plays and dives in the river bends
In a style that is most elusive;
With few relations and fewer friends,
For Old Man Platypus descends
From a family most exclusive.

He shares his burrow beneath the bank
With his wife and his son and daughter
At the roots of the reeds and the grasses rank;
And the bubbles show where our hero sank
To its entrance under water.

Safe in their burrow below the falls
They live in a world of wonder,
Where no one visits and no one calls,
They sleep like little brown billiard balls
With their beaks tucked neatly under.

And he talks in a deep unfriendly growl
As he goes on his journey lonely;
For he’s no relation to fish nor fowl,
Nor to bird nor beast, nor to horned owl;
In fact, he’s the one and only!

 

Source: The animals Noah forgot, 1933

The Geebung Polo Club – by Banjo Paterson

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It was somewhere up the country in a land of rock and scrub,
That they formed an institution called the Geebung Polo Club.
They were long and wiry natives of the rugged mountainside,
And the horse was never saddled that the Geebungs couldn’t ride;
But their style of playing polo was irregular and rash –
They had mighty little science, but a mighty lot of dash:
And they played on mountain ponies that were muscular and strong,
Though their coats were quite unpolished, and their manes and tails were long.
And they used to train those ponies wheeling cattle in the scrub:
They were demons, were the members of the Geebung Polo Club.

It was somewhere down the country, in a city’s smoke and steam,
That a polo club existed, called the Cuff and Collar Team.
As a social institution ’twas a marvellous success,
For the members were distinguished by exclusiveness and dress.
They had natty little ponies that were nice, and smooth, and sleek,
For their cultivated owners only rode ’em once a week.
So they started up the country in pursuit of sport and fame,
For they meant to show the Geebungs how they ought to play the game;
And they took their valets with them – just to give their boots a rub
Ere they started operations on the Geebung Polo Club.

Now my readers can imagine how the contest ebbed and flowed,
When the Geebung boys got going it was time to clear the road;
And the game was so terrific that ere half the time was gone
A spectator’s leg was broken – just from merely looking on.
For they waddied one another till the plain was strewn with dead,
While the score was kept so even that they neither got ahead.
And the Cuff and Collar captain, when he tumbled off to die,
Was the last surviving player – so the game was called a tie.

Then the captain of the Geebungs raised him slowly from the ground,
Though his wounds were mostly mortal, yet he fiercely gazed around;
There was no one to oppose him – all the rest were in a trance,
So he scrambled on his pony for his last expiring chance,
For he meant to make an effort to get victory to his side;
So he struck at goal – and missed it – then he tumbled off and died.

By the old Campaspe River, where the breezes shake the grass,
There’s a row of little gravestones that the stockmen never pass,
For they bear a crude inscription saying, “Stranger, drop a tear,
For the Cuff and Collar players and the Geebung boys lie here.”
And on misty moonlit evenings, while the dingoes howl around,
You can see their shadows flitting down that phantom polo ground;
You can hear the loud collisions as the flying players meet,
And the rattle of the mallets, and the rush of ponies’ feet,
Till the terrified spectator rides like blazes to the pub –
He’s been haunted by the spectres of the Geebung Polo Club.

The Antipodean, 1893

A Bush Christening by Banjo Paterson

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On the outer Barcoo where the churches are few,
And men of religion are scanty,
On a road never cross’d ‘cept by folk that are lost,
One Michael Magee had a shanty.

Now this Mike was the dad of a ten-year-old lad,
Plump, healthy, and stoutly conditioned;
He was strong as the best, but poor Mike had no rest
For the youngster had never been christened,

And his wife used to cry, “If the darlin’ should die
Saint Peter would not recognise him.”
But by luck he survived till a preacher arrived,
Who agreed straightaway to baptise him.

Now the artful young rogue, while they held their collogue,
With his ear to the keyhole was listenin’,
And he muttered in fright while his features turned white,
“What the divil and all is this christenin’?”

He was none of your dolts, he had seen them brand colts,
And it seemed to his small understanding,
If the man in the frock made him one of the flock,
It must mean something very like branding.

So away with a rush he set off for the bush,
While the tears in his eyelids they glistened-
“‘Tis outrageous,” says he, “to brand youngsters like me,
I’ll be dashed if I’ll stop to be christened!”

Like a young native dog he ran into a log,
And his father with language uncivil,
Never heeding the “praste” cried aloud in his haste,
“Come out and be christened, you divil!”

But he lay there as snug as a bug in a rug,
And his parents in vain might reprove him,
Till his reverence spoke (he was fond of a joke)
“I’ve a notion,” says he, “that’ll move him.”

“Poke a stick up the log, give the spalpeen a prog;
Poke him aisy-don’t hurt him or maim him,
‘Tis not long that he’ll stand, I’ve the water at hand,
As he rushes out this end I’ll name him.

“Here he comes, and for shame! ye’ve forgotten the name-
Is it Patsy or Michael or Dinnis?”
Here the youngster ran out, and the priest gave a shout-
“Take your chance, anyhow, wid ‘Maginnis’!”

As the howling young cub ran away to the scrub
Where he knew that pursuit would be risky,
The priest, as he fled, flung a flask at his head
That was labelled “Maginnis’s Whisky!”

And Maginnis Magee has been made a J.P.,
And the one thing he hates more than sin is
To be asked by the folk who have heard of the joke,
How he came to be christened “Maginnis”!

Source: The Bulletin, 16 December 1893.

Fur and feathers by Banjo Paterson

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The emus formed a football team
Up Walgett way;
Their dark-brown sweaters were a dream
But kangaroos would sit and scream
To watch them play.

 
"Now, butterfingers," they would call,
And such-like names;
The emus couldn't hold the ball
- They had no hands - but hands aren't all
In football games. 

A match against the kangaroos
They played one day.
The kangaroos were forced to choose
Some wallabies and wallaroos
That played in grey. 

The rules that in the West prevail
Would shock the town;
For when a kangaroo set sail
An emu jumped upon his tail
And fetched him down.

 
A whistler duck as referee
Was not admired.
He whistled so incessantly
The teams rebelled, and up a tree
He soon retired. 

The old marsupial captain said,
"It's do or die!"
So down the ground like fire he fled
And leaped above an emu's head
And scored a try. 

Then shouting, "Keep it on the toes!"
The emus came.
Fierce as the flooded Bogan flows
They laid their foemen out in rows
And saved the game. 

On native pear and Darling pea
They dined that night:
But one man was an absentee:
The whistler duck - their referee -
Had taken flight.


Source: The Animals Noah Forgot (1933)

The Man from Ironbark by AB (Banjo) Paterson

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It was the man from Ironbark who struck the Sydney town,

He wandered over street and park, he wandered up and down.

He loitered here, he loitered there, till he was like to drop,

Until at last in sheer despair he sought a barber’s shop.

’Ere shave my heard and whiskers off, I’ll be a man of mark,

I’ll go and do the Sydney toff up home in Ironbark.’

 

The barber man was small and flash, as barbers mostly are,

He wore a strike-your-fancy sash, he smoked a huge cigar:

He was a humorist of note and keen at repartee,

He laid the odds and kept a ‘tote’, whatever that may be.

And when he saw our friend arrive, he whispered ‘Here’s a lark!

Just watch me catch him all alive this man from Ironbark.’

 

There were some gilded youths that sat along the barber’s wall,

Their eyes were dull, their heads were flat, they had no brains at all;

To them the barber passed the wink, his dexter eyelid shut,

I’ll make this bloomin’ yokel think his bloomin’ throat is cut.’

And as he soaped and rubbed it in he made a rude remark:

‘I s’pose the flats is pretty green up there in Ironbark.’

 

A grunt was all reply he got; he shaved the bushman’s chin,

Then made the water boiling hot and dipped the razor in.

He raised his hand, his brow grew black, he paused a while to gloat,

Then slashed the red-hot razor-back across his victim’s throat;

Upon the newly-shaven skin it made a livid mark—

No doubt it fairly took him in—the man from Ironbark.

 

He fetched a wild up-country yell might wake the dead to hear,

And though his throat, he knew full well, was cut from ear to ear,

He struggled gamely to his feet, and faced the murderous foe:

‘You’ve done for me! you dog, I’m beat! one hit before I go

I only wish I had a knife, you blessed murdering shark!

But you’ll remember all your life the man from Ironbark.’

 

He lifted up his hairy paw, with one tremendous clout

He landed on the barber’s jaw, and knocked the barber out

He set to work with nail and tooth, he made the place a wreck;

He grabbed the nearest gilded youth, and tried to break his neck.

And all the while his throat he held to save his vital spark,

And ‘Murder! Bloody Murder!’ yelled the man from Ironbark.

 

A peeler man who heard the din came in to see the show;

He tried to run the bushman in, but he refused to go.

And when at last the barber spoke, and said ‘ ’Twas all in fun—

’Twas just a little harmless joke, a trifle overdone.’

‘A joke!’ he cried. ‘By George, that’s fine; a lively sort of lark;

I’d like to catch that murdering swine some night in Ironbark.’

 

And now while round the shearing-floor the listening shearers gape,

He tells the story o’er and o’er, and brags of his escape.

‘Them barber chaps what keeps a tote, by George, I’ve had enough,

One tried to cut my bloomin’ throat, but thank the Lord it’s tough.’

And whether he’s believed or no, there’s one thing to remark,

That flowing beards are all the go way up in Ironbark.

 

Source: The ABC Book of Australian Poetry: a treasury for young people compiled by Libby Hathorn (ABC Books 2010)

Clancy of the Overflow by A.B. (Banjo) Paterson

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I had written him a letter which I had, for want of better

Knowledge, sent to where I met him down the Lachlan years ago;

He was shearing when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him.

Just on spec, addressed as follows, ‘Clancy, of The Overflow’

And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected

(And I think the same was written with a thumb-nail dipped in tar);

’Twas his shearing mate who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it:

‘Clancy’s gone to Queensland droving, and we don’t know where he are.’

In my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy

Gone a-droving down the Cooper where the Western drovers go;

As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing,

For the drover’s life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.

And the bush has friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him

In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,

And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended,

And at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars.

I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy

Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall,

And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city,

Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all.

And in place of lowing cattle, I can hear the fiendish rattle

Of the tramways and the buses making hurry down the street;

And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting

Comes fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of feet.

And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me

As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste,

With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy,

For townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste.

And I somehow rather fancy that I’d like to change with Clancy,

Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go,

While he faced the round eternal of the cash-book and the journal–

But I doubt he’d suit the office, Clancy, of The Overflow.

 

Source: The ABC Book of Australian Poetry: a treasury for young people compiled by Libby Hathorn (ABC Books 2010)

The Man from Snowy River by A.B. (Banjo) Paterson

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There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around

That the colt from old Regret had got away,

And had joined the wild bush horses—he was worth a thousand pound,

So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.

All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far

Had mustered at the homestead overnight,

For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,

And the stockhorse snuffs the battle with delight.

 

There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the cup,

The old man with his hair as white as snow;

But few could ride beside him when his blood was fairly up—

He would go wherever horse and man could go.

And Clancy of the Overflow came down to lend a hand,

No better horseman ever held the reins;

For never horse could throw him while the saddle-girths would stand—

He learnt to ride while droving on the plains.

 

And one was there, a stripling on a small and weedy beast;

He was something like a racehorse undersized,

With a touch of Timor pony—three parts thoroughbred at least—

And such as are by mountain horsemen prized.

He was hard and tough and wiry—just the sort that won’t say die—

There was courage in his quick impatient tread;

And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye,

And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.

 

But still so slight and weedy, one would doubt his power to stay,

And the old man said, ‘That horse will never do

For a long and tiring gallop—lad, you’d better stop away,

Those hills are far too rough for such as you.’

So he waited sad and wistful—only Clancy stood his friend—

I think we ought to let him come,’ he said;

‘I warrant he’ll be with us when he’s wanted at the end,

For both his horse and he are mountain bred.

 

‘He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko’s side,

‘Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough,

Where a horse’s hoofs strike firelight from the flint-stones every stride,

The man that holds his own is good enough.

And the Snowy River riders on the mountains make their home,

‘Where the river runs those giant hills between;

I have seen full many horseman since I first commenced to roam,

But nowhere else such horsemen have I seen.’

 

So he went; they found the horses by the big mimosa clump,

They raced away towards the mountain’s brow,

And the old man gave his orders, ‘Boys, go at them from the jump,

No use to try for fancy riding now.

And, Clancy, you must wheel them, try and wheel them to the right.

Ride boldly, lad, and never fear the spills,

For never yet was rider that could keep the mob in sight,

If once they gain the shelter of those hills.’

 

So Clancy rode to wheel them—he was racing on the wing

Where the best and boldest riders take their place,

And he raced his stock-horse past them, and he made the ranges ring

With the stockwhip, as he met them face to face.

Then they halted for a moment, while he swung the dreaded lash,

But they saw their well-loved mountain full in view,

And they charged beneath the stockwhip with a sharp and sudden dash,

And off into the mountain scrub they flew.

 

Then fast the horsemen followed, where the gorges deep and black

Resounded to the thunder of their tread,

And the stockwhip woke the echoes, and they fiercely answered back

From cliffs and crags that beetled overhead.

And upward, ever upward, the wild horses held their way.

Where mountain ash and kurrajong grew wide;

And the old man muttered fiercely, ‘We may bid the mob good-day,

No man can hold them down the other side.’

 

When they reached the mountain’s summit, even Clancy took a pull

It well might make the boldest hold their breath;

The wild hop scrub grew thickly, and the hidden ground was full

Of wombat holes, and any slip was death.

But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head,

And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer,

And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,

While the others stood and watched in very fear.

 

He sent the flint-stones flying, but the pony kept his feet,

He cleared the fallen timber in his stride,

And the man from Snowy River never shifted in his seat—

It was grand to see that mountain horseman ride.

Through the stringybarks and saplings, on the rough and broken ground

Down the hillside at a racing pace he went;

And he never drew the bridle till he landed safe and sound

At the bottom of that terrible descent.

 

He was right among the horses as they climbed the further hill,

And the watchers on the mountain, standing mute,

Saw him ply the stockwhip fiercely, he was right among them still,

As he raced across the clearing in pursuit.

Then they lost him for a moment, where two mountain gullies met

In the ranges—but a final glimpse reveals

On a dim and distant hillside the wild horses racing yet,

With the man from Snowy River at their heels.

 

And he ran them single-handed till their sides were white with foam

He followed like a bloodhound on their track,

Till they halted, cowed and beaten; then he turned their heads for home,

And alone and unassisted brought them back.

But his hardy mountain pony he could scarcely raise a trot,

He was blood from hip to shoulder from the spur;

But his pluck was still undaunted, and his courage fiery hot,

For never yet was mountain horse a cur.

 

And down by Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges raise

Their torn and rugged battlements on high,

Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze

At midnight in the cold and frosty sky,

And where around the Overflow the reed beds sweep and sway

To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide,

The Man from Snowy River is a household word today.

And the stockmen tell the story of his ride.